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Indian American High Schooler Sirihaasa Nallamothu Wins Computer Science Award

Indian American High Schooler Sirihaasa Nallamothu Wins Computer Science Award

  • The 16-year-old from Illinois will receive a $10,000 cash prize for a project on Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

Illinois teenager Sirihaasa Nallamothu is among four high school seniors selected for the ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing, the ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has announced. Nallamothu, a senior at University High School in Normal, will receive a $10,000 cash prize for her project that was selected by a panel of judges “based on ingenuity, complexity, relevancy and originality,” the announcement said.

Using machine learning methods and physiological data for her project — Syncope in Patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) — the 16-year-old Indian American was inspired by a TikTok video about POTS, ACM/CSTA said. When she realized there were no research studies or consumer solutions to predict syncope on real-world data, she was determined to use her machine-learning skills to predict syncopal episodes.

According to ACM/CSTA, Nallamothu is “the first person to conduct an IRB research study and collect human subject field data on POTS patients in the real world using non-invasive technologies.” She wrote a Python script to extract the 15-minute window signal data of heart rate, blood volumetric pressure, EDA, temperature, and accelerometer data. She also uses the concept called “late fusion” in temporal multimodal machine learning. “This research is providing a starting point for future research into real-time prediction and integration into a smartwatch, which will help millions who experience vasovagal syncope research a safe and comfortable position before fainting,” ACM/CSTA said.

After completing her research, Nallamothu, a machine learning student researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, plans to work toward creating a consumer product and pairing her algorithm with a smartwatch. In middle school, she founded a Girls Who Code club, where she taught coding curriculum/activities, managed grants/funding, and networked and planned events, according to her website.

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She also co-founded a Girls Who Code at the Normal Public Library for middle school girls, where she is currently teaching and developing a curriculum for this club. She has also mentored Robotics and developed a curriculum for the ‘Wonder Workshop Programs.’ Additionally, she is the founder of the Dream Code Project, a program that teaches Girls[anywhere in the country] how to code [remotely].

Established in 2015 by David Cutler and Gordon Bell, the Cutler-Bell Prize promotes the field of computer science and empowers students to pursue computing challenges beyond the traditional classroom environment. Other award recipients include Okezue Bell of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Nathan Elias of Austin, Texas; and Hannah Guan of San Antonio, Texas.

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